CINCINNATI -- If the Mets do trade Carlos Beltran this week -- and all indications point to them doing so -- the situation will offer Terry Collins his most difficult test as manager to date.
"The first thing I have to do is see how they react to it," Collins said of his players. "I don't want to jump to conclusions if they're going to be able to deal with it."
If clubhouse conversations take on negative tones, Collins said, he will pull players aside and set the situation right. Already, he has begun working on a speech in the event that Beltran is traded prior to Sunday's non-waiver deadline.
"We've got guys that are playing for jobs," Collins said. "The minute they give up or quit, they won't be here next year."
Helping matters, Collins said, will be the presence of two veteran mentors who were not guaranteed to be here this week: third baseman David Wright, who recently returned from the disabled list, and reliever Jason Isringhausen, who was recently a trade candidate himself. Those two can join fellow veterans Jose Reyes and Jason Bay, among others, in policing the clubhouse.
"This is where you really need their experience because they've been through this," Collins said. "They can take some of those young players off to the side and say, 'Hey, listen, you can't let this bother you.'"
At least not to any great extent. No matter the context, the likely departure of Beltran is sure to bother many around the team, from the players to the coaches to Collins himself.
What the manager does not want to happen is for such emotions to sour the Mets' collective attitude and diminish their effort on the field.
"If it's stuff that I don't like or will need to be addressed," Collins said, "it will be addressed immediately."